Paper $49.50 ISBN: 9789089640826 Published July 2009 For sale only in the United States, its dependencies, the Philippines, and Canada

Synod on the Freedom of Conscience

A Thorough Examination during the Gathering Held in the Year 1582 in the City of Freetown

By Dirck Coornhert, edited by Gerrit Voogt

Synod on the Freedom of Conscience
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By Dirck Coornhert, edited by Gerrit Voogt

Distributed for Amsterdam University Press

Translated, Edited, and Annotated by Gerrit Voogt
242 pages | 12 halftones | 6 3/10 x 9 1/2 | © 2008
Paper $49.50 ISBN: 9789089640826 Published July 2009 For sale only in the United States, its dependencies, the Philippines, and Canada

This volume presents the first English-language translation of Synod on the Freedom of Conscience (1582), a book-length plea for religious freedom by Dutch humanist Dirck Vockertszoon Coornhert (1522–90). Coornhert’s central concern in his writings and exchanges with ministers of the Reformed Church was the safeguarding of freedom of conscience—the chief cause, he believed, for the struggle against Hapsburg Spain. The imaginary synod at the center of this text, held in “Freetown,” becomes a space of exchange for Catholic and Protestant leaders and theologians, whose spirited debates are concluded with remarks by Coornhert’s alter ego, the irenic Gamaliel, who shows that both parties sin equally on the side of intolerance.





First Session

Whether or Not  the True Visible Church of Christ May Err


Second Session

Proofs based on Antiquity, Customs, and Traditions


Third Session

Rules and Ceremonies not Based on Scripture


Fourth Session

The Credibility of the Patristic Writings


Fifth Session

Proofs based on Councils and Consensus


Sixth Session

Proofs Based on Examples from Ecclesiastical Histories


Seventh Session

Proofs from Pagans


Eighth Session

Passing Judgment on Everyone, Yet Not Wanting to Suffer Anyone’s Judgment


Ninth Session

Who is to Judge on Doctrine



Tenth Session

Whether Judgment of Heresy Belongs to the Civil

or the Ecclesiastical Authority 


Eleventh Session

Freedom of Conscience in Faith as Well as in its Exercise

and Whether Only the Exercise of What the Civil Magistrate Judges to be the True Religion Shall Be Allowed, and None Else


Twelfth Session

Those Who Criticize Doctrine or Disturb the External

Peace of the Church, and how They Ought to Be Punished


Thirteenth Session

Those Whose Teachings Differ from Those of the

Church, and Whether They Ought to be Punished by Death


Fourteenth Session

Whether or not We Should Dispute with Those Who Teach



Fifteenth Session

The Writing, Publishing, Printing, Selling, Having

and Reading of Tracts and Books


Sixteenth Session

Condemning Others without Hearing Them


Seventeenth Session

Whether it is in Accord with Scripture That Religious

Leaders Appeal to the Magistrate for Support of

their Doctrine


Eighteenth Session

Denouncing Mercifulness, Praising Severity, and

Counseling Bloodshed in Matters of Faith


Nineteenth Session

Whether it is Right for Religious Leaders to Tell the

Civil Magistrate that They Have a Duty towards God to

Kill Some People for Matters of Religion


The Balance





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